Recently, we’ve had a lot of our clients asking us what it takes to make a document “print ready.” They know they want to help make the printing process run smoothly, but aren’t always sure what needs to be done to their documents before getting them to us. Let us first start off by saying, thank you for inquiring about such a thing! There’s always some sort of bridge to cross to get from design to print. So it’s awesome having both sides working together to get files ready. So starting today, we are beginning a series on how to make your documents print ready.

Today, we’ll discuss “bleed.” Yes, it sounds creepy, but in the print world it’s actually pretty wonderful.

So does your document have a bleed? For those who don’t know what a bleed is, or whether your document needs one, there’s an easy way to tell. If your document is going to have any color ink extending all the way to the edge, then it needs a bleed. Your design program should allow you the option to have a bleed, and select its size. We usually use 0.125”, or 1/8 of an inch, of bleed. Keep in mind, this should be done when your document is first being generated, before any design work has taken place inside of it.

So why do we need to go to all this trouble to make a bleed in the first place? The purpose of bleeds are to eliminate the possibility of a white line showing up on your final product, after it has been cut down. If ink goes past the cutting crop marks, then there is little to no chance that a pesky white line will show itself. Check out the diagram below. The dotted red line indicates where the paper slicer will cut. And you’ll notice it starts well beyond where the inked section ends. Yes… This means we have to print additional ink onto the sheet of paper, only to ultimately cut it off. It sounds silly, but this is necessary to get the crisp colorful look you want on your final product. Plus, we’re all about being green. So the paper we’re using is already partially recycled, and any of its scraps go right back into the recycling bin.

So now that you know how to add a bleed to your document, how do you get it to show up when you print? Hint: It won’t do it automatically. We’ll talk more about that later on in the series, when we discuss export settings. 

And for those who don’t know… Metropolitan is a commercial printing company located in Dallas, Texas. We provide offset, digital, and large format printing; along with graphic design, promotional items, mail service and fulfillment. Let us help you with your brochures, postcards, or event collateral and signage! And yes… In the event you forget, we’ll always double check to make sure everything has the appropriate bleed!

Let us know what we should cover next time!